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History of Presbyterian Church

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   The foregoing historical account is taken from anniversary papers prepared by Elders, A. C. Montgomery and Dr. Robert McConaughy. Mr. Montgomery's paper was prepared for the 20th anniversary and Dr. McConaughy's for the 30th.

A. C. Montgomery's Paper.

   Twenty years ago there were only four buildings in what is now known as the city of York. Two of these were frame buildings and two wore made of sod. Scattered throughout the adjacent country were several other buildings of different kinds, making some twenty houses in all. The occupants of these frontier homes were for the most part religious people. The great majority of us had been born and educated amid the religious influences of the East. Consequently we were never entirely without the ordinary means of grace, for we brought our father's God and our father's Bible and Hymn Book with us. Armed with these we frequently assembled in some one of our private dwellings and read and prayed and sang, as men and women only call read, pray and sing under similar circumstances. Moved as it were, by a common impulse, a number of us anxious for our families and the public good, came together July 22, 1871, and organized ourselves into a Presbyterian church. There being no building in which we could meet, we assembled under the wide spreading branches of some stately elms which stood on the south bank of the Beaver just where the center of the mill dam now is. Rev. Geo. R. Carroll, now of Wyoming, Iowa, was at that time district missionary for the Presbytery of Missouri River, which embraced western Iowa and all of Nebraska. He was present and presided over the deliberations. He also preached an appropriate sermon and led us in prayer to the throne of God. It was on God we waited, and as we believe, it was according to His will, that we then and there entered into



the following covenant: Whereas, we believe that the worship of Almighty God is a solemn duty as well as a high and holy privilege, arid is calculated to secure the highest good of our race both in time and eternity, and whereas, the church of Christ in its organic capacity is the great instrument through which God is pleased to work in elevating, blessing arid saving the world, we do earnestly request the organization of a Presbyterian church of which we may become members, and to which we pledge our cordial support. Only eight persons signed their names to the foregoing instrument, and became charter members, viz, A. C. Montgomery, Mrs. A. M. Montgomery, Robert Charlton, F. O. Bell, Mrs. Dixon, R. R. Crawford, Mrs. B. A. Crawford and Mrs. Hattie E. French. A. C. Montgomery was elected elder, in which capacity he had previously served the United Presbyterian church at New Vernon, Penn. Being thus duly organized the church entered at once on its life long work of saving souls. Its membership as we have seen was small and so was its material wealth. It had no building and no money wherewith to secure one, hence it continued during the summer to worship as best it could in the grove where it was organized. Here was also held in connection with the church a Union Sabbath School which proved a great blessing to us all.
   In 1872, by the assistance of the Board of Church Erection we were able to build our first house of worship. It was a very unpretentious structure, being only twenty-four by forty feet. It still stands on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and 8th street and was the first church edifice erected in the city. It cost about a thousand dollars which at that time seemed a large amount of money to be invested in a church in a city where fine corner lots like those of Mr. F. O. Bell and Mr. Cheney could be purchased for five dollars. Mr. Robert Charlton was chairman of the building committee and on the 17th of November, 1872, the very day the church was dedicated, he died. Rev. H. P. Peck, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Lincoln, preached the dedicatory sermon.
   In 1880 our congregation had grown beyond the capacity of the first building, so we were under the necessity of



enlarging it. This was done at a cost of four hundred dollars, and gave us quite a large audience room in which we worshipped till 1887, when the building once more became too narrow for us and under the leadership of Rev. T. N. Riale, we began to take subscriptions for the beautiful brick edifice in which we are this day assembled. During the twenty years of its existence, the church has been served by eleven elders, six of whom are still on duty.

A. C. Montgomery

1871 1900

Dr. R. McConaughy

1887 1900

D. P. Temple

1876 1886

Ira Smith


W. W. Giffen

1879 1887

E. D. Marselus

1889 1900

S. C. Grippen

1885 1886

Prof. H. R. Corbett


G. P. French

1885 1888

Edwin W. Bell


William Bell

1887 1890

   Elder Montgomery has served the church during its entire existance (sic). Elder French was drowned in Lincoln creek August 28, 1888. Elder William Bell "fell on sleep April 19, 1890. In 1889 the church adopted the rotary system of eldership which it still continues.
   The church during the first eight months of its existence had no regular preaching. Rev. Mr. Smith. of Seward, occupied the pulpit in March, 1872. Rev. D. B. Fleming preached during the latter part of the same year in York and also in Fairmont. In 1873 Rev. T. K. Hodges took charge of the church. He was followed by Rev. A. S. Powell, who remained two years. In 1877 Rev. W. T. Gibson was the minister in charge. Rev. B. F. Sharp entered upon his labors with the church April 1st, 1878, and continued seven years. Rev. A. T. Ashley followed and remained only six months. In 1886 Rev. F. N. Riale commenced his ministry with the church. He was so successful that the sickly child soon became too large for its wardrobe and it was evident that a larger and better one must be provided. Dr. Riale immediately set to work to see what could be done in the way of raising the necessary funds. He met with a generous response and the corner stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies in the year 1887. Mr. Riale remained fifteen months and left us in the midst of our building difficulties. He was succeeded by the Rev. S. M. Crissman, who remained one year,



during which time the new church was dedicated and the sickly youth of fifteen years had grown into a healthy boy of seventeen.
   This church building was dedicated September 2, 1888, with an elaborate program covering both the morning and evening services. There were five ministers present. Rev. S. M. Crissman preached the morning sermon, and Rev. Duke Slavens, of the M. E. Church, the evening sermon. Dr. Riale unfortunately had most of the subscription list in his head rather than on paper, and being several hundred miles away and having his head with him, the list was not available, so that on the morning of the dedication it was found necessary to provide for the entire indebtedness, amounting to $13,000. About $8,000 was raised and a loan of $5,000 made for future gnerations (sic) to pay.

Dr. McConaughy's Paper.

   Once more the church began looking for a new Moses to take the helm and lead her people out of the wilderness, for there seemed yet to be much land to possess and some debt to take care of. A star in the East was seen, and as everything great comes out of the East, it was natural to follow up this luminary and see whether it was of the proper magnitude to guide the destiny of this chosen people in their new and enlarged sphere. A nearer approach and intimacy satisfied us that all was well, and the Rev. John D. Countermine, D. D., came all the way from the state of New York to accept the pastorate of the First Presbyterian church of York. He was the first pastor the church had ever had. Although eighteen years old and having had nine ministers, not one of them had ever been installed as pastor. Dr. Countermine was able, aggressive and zealous in the good work, the church once more began to move onward and upward in members and influence, the remaining church debt, which by this time had increased to $8,000, was paid off and the mortgage publicly cremated.
   Once more we were in a wilderness, looking for a Moses or a Joshua, but we were not long in waiting. Again we looked toward the East, and behold! a star was right in our midst. He was shining in an other denomination and



had come over from Iowa to deliver a lecture at the college. He was invited to preach for us, a call was given and accepted. and on July 1st, 1893, Rev. B. M. Long was installed the second pastor of the church of York. The mantle of Elijah dropped easily upon the shoulders of this Elisha, and was gracefully worn by him for six years, or until August 1st, 1899, when he accepted a call to the Second church of Lincoln. It can be said of him as of his predecessors, he was zealous, earnest, consecrated, talented, and the work and influence of the church widened. The legacy of the parsonage debt was growing larger rather than smaller, other debts were accumulating. The church was perhaps over reaching itself and the pastor went to work to lift the load. He succeeded, and the $2,000 mortgage was lifted from the manse. Having resisted several flattering offers during the years of his sojourn here, having served the church longer than any previous pastor with one exception, that of Father Sharp, having delivered us from another debt, though leaving us with a smaller one, the presbytery transferred him from one of its churches to another. The line of succession appeared to have been broken. We wandered farther and farther. We appeared to be up against the Red Sea. There were many Elishas, but the mantle would not light. Once it dropped on the Rev. James L. Countermine, D. D., but he flung it aside and it came down on the broad shoulders of the Rev. Andrew Thompson Wolff. He was an eastern star, but came out of the northern heavens by way of South Dakota, and landed in our midst in January, 1900. He was soon after installed as the 3rd pastor of the York church. Dr. Wolff took rank among his predecessors as a man of ability, an eloquent preacher, a consecrated man, but the church was out of joint, everything was at cross-purpose. We were all out of tune. The work of the Lord was hindered. We were accumulating another assortment of debts, and in one year he asked to be released. The church had lost its old time prestige. We were like the prodigal, feeding on husks, and, like the prodigal, they soon came to their senses, realized their condition and started on the return trip. While we were on the way, and not a great way off, behold! "Father" Creighton ran out to meet us, fell on our neck, said he was from



Missouri and would "show us"-- the way out of all our troubles. He has done it, with the aid of "The Elder Brother" Marshall.
   The church held its annual congregational meeting December 30th, 1902. At this meeting, encouraging reports were read from all the societies in the church and officers elected for the ensuing year.
   The church officers are as follows:



Ira A. Smith

B. F. Marshall Jr.

M. H. Kirkpatrick

W. L. Kirkpatrick

Dr. Robert McConaughy

E. A. Warner

W. E. Bell

R. M. Rankin

F. H. Runner

James A. Barr

Robert James

  Bookkeeper -- A. B. Chatterton.
   Church Treasurer -- J. R. Shreck.
   Organist and Choir Leader -- Mrs. Robert McConaughy.

   The present pastorate began April 14th, 1901. The efforts of pastor and people have been greatly blessed of God. There is no indebtedness against the church. One hundred and thirty five persons have united with the church, making the present membership roll the largest in its history.


   The pastor of the Presbyterian Church, Rev. John Creighton, is a native of Canada. "A Scotch Canadian." He was born and raised on a farm -- migrated to the United States at the age of nineteen -- entered Park College, Parkville, Mo., where he graduated with the degree of A. B., in June 1894. In September of the same year he entered McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, Ill., and graduated in May 1897.
   Mr. Creighton on the completion of his Seminary course was called to the pastorate of the Presbyterian Church, Trenton, Mo. He served this church for three years and ten months when he was invited to take up the work in the First Presbyterian Church of York, Nebraska. After preaching in York for one year he was given a unanamous (sic) call to become the installed pastor. The service of installation was held on the evening of June. 16th, 1902.

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